It’s a strange feeling that comes when you must pay for what is already yours; when you must buy back to keep what you own.
There’s a story about that with a boy and boat. But I’m going to tell a different one, about how Milky the cat came back.
I admit: it was my great idea to take Milky and Oreo back to their barn of origin while our family vacationed in Florida. So a month ago, we carted the cats back to Mom and Dad’s farm.
Mom thought crating them a day or two in the barn would be good. Then they could acclimate to their former home.
I didn’t think that’d be necessary. Milky and Oreo wouldn’t need that. They’d remember their old kitten haunts and the smell of the sheep and the hay and their cousins.
I couldn’t have been more wrong.
The Stray Cat Dirge
The second the boys left the van, was the second the cats exploded in a mad dash from their hands. Milky south through the corn field, Oreo north through the garden. Like spooked cheetah cubs escaping a lion, they ran.
Gabe raced after Milky a few steps, but in the dusky light they were instantly out of sight. And as he burst into tears, Sam shook his head.
It’s all your fault Mom. You ruined vacation.
I miss my cats. They’ll never come back.
Those were the words to the song. The dirge that Sam and Gabe sang as I packed the van for a sunny spring break away.
They sang them again ten nights later, upon our catless return.
Fast forward 20 days from the day the cats escaped.
The Cat Came Back
Your cat has been found, the voicemail said. Please contact Lakeland Animal Shelter at 262-741-1000.
I did. And learned,
A trucker found the cat at a rest stop [10 miles from Mom and Dad’s] and picked him up. But he figured a cat so cool must be someone’s pet so he took him to a shelter in Milwaukee. They read his chip and called us and the trucker brought him back down. So your cat is here.
And just so you know, it’ll be a $20 handling fee and a $25 repeat occurrence fee when you pick him up. (Yes, repeat. But I’ll save that story for another time.)
Milky Is Redeemed
Jim redeemed Milky from the shelter an hour later at a cost of $45. Our “free barn cat” was worth much more now than he was when the boys found him behind between bales in the haymow last fall.
Milky was our cat. But he had strayed. Milky needed to be redeemed. And the cost to buy him back was infinitely- any amount is infinite from zero- more than the cost to own.
But now he was ours. Because we loved him. Milky was worth it.
And you, Christian— you are worth it too. The way you’ve been redeemed is proof.
We Are Redeemed
The Greek word for redeemed in Titus 2:14 and 1 Peter 1:18 is “lutroo.” It means “free by paying a ransom, redeem…set free…rescue.”
Titus 2:14 shows Jesus’ death has rescued us from a life of slavery to sin: “Who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from lawlessness and purify for himself a people for his own possession, zealous for good work.”
The same word is used in 1 Peter 1, “knowing that you were redeemed from the futile ways inherited from your ancestors, not with perishable things such as silver or gold but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without spot or blemish” (1:18-19).
We redeemed Milky with an infinitetesimally smaller price. Jesus gave himself for us. Himself. As a lamb without spot or blemish. He gave himself.
We only gave 45 perishable, measly little dollars for Milky the cat.
More Sinful Than You Know, More Loved Than You Imagine
Do you know this? That the only thing you contributed to your salvation was the sin from which you had to be saved.
God redeemed you from that.
That is the Gospel.
It’s the priceless key to both true humility and truly feeling valued. You- we are more sinful than we know and more loved than we imagine.
After all, it took the precious blood of Christ to redeem us.
And our Lord Jesus Christ did do that.
Redeemed from the Curse
For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God (2 Cor. 5:21). Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us (Gal. 3:13). We can have peace with God because Jesus became the curse for us.
Which also means nothing in the life of the redeemed soul is wasted: no trial (they make us mature), no wait (God works for those who wait for him), not even sin (who is forgiven much loves much). God can even redeem the years the locust have eaten, the lost years, someone said.
And when he does that, just what are the redeemed to do?
What The Redeemed Do
Well, Milky lapped up two bowls of milk then purred loud and long in Gabe’s arms. But Milky’s just a cat.
Just what is the redeemed soul to do? The Psalmist wrote, Let the redeemed of the Lord say so.
O praise Him!
But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.